Bay Area mom searches as far away as Canada for baby formula as shortage intensifies

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The baby formula shortage is impacting infants across the country. On Friday, the Biden administration announced efforts to address this crisis.

Karissa Brune has made it her full-time job to find baby formula for her son. They have one month left of baby formula.

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"I have three full cans, half a can. My 5-month-old goes through maybe one can a week," said Brune.

The impact of the pandemic and a recent recall of one of the leading baby formula manufacturers has led to this shortage. Karissa says she feels like she is on her own searching for ways to feed her baby.

"All of us are trying to share the formula that we have. Sometimes even half a can. Here 'I'll take half and you take the other half.' It's really serious," said Brune and added. "Personally I can't breastfeed at all. So, if I don't have formula my baby is not going to eat."

For the past two months, Karissa has been contacting strangers on social media and paying them via Venmo.

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"That is how desperate I have become," said Brune. "I'm having formula shipped from Oklahoma, from Kentucky, from Sacramento. I recently looked into buying from Canada."

Finding formula on the shelves is almost impossible and on Amazon, Brune says the prices have more than doubled.

The Mother's Milk Bank in San Jose is noticing an increase in more moms opting for donated breast milk as another option.

"We are seeing about a 20% increase in the amount of milk that we ship out to hospitals and outpatients," said Executive Director of the Mother's Milk Bank Jonathan Bautista.

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As the shortage intensifies more moms are signing up to go through the donating process and help other moms in need.

"Each donor answers 56 questions. She also has to be tested for infectious diseases. That is part of the screening process. Once that is done we reach out to their baby's physician to get their consent," said Bautista.

About 4,000 ounces of breast milk are leaving the San Jose breast milk location every day.

"Exclusive human milk feeding has been shown to benefit the babies. The bioactive nutrients in human milk aren't contained in the formula. Mom's own milk is the first choice and donor milk is the second choice because of the bioactive nutrients that are benefiting babies that formula doesn't have," said Bautista.

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President Biden said Friday the baby formula shortage should improve but didn't give specifics as to when.

Brune says every day that goes by is a day her son has less food.

"You wonder how I am going to make this work this week. There is no end in sight right now," said Brune.

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